Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The DM's treadmill

It's been weeks since my last post because, frankly, life has been kicking me square in the testicles. Repeatedly, and without mercy.

But that's not what this blog is about! It's about escaping from your life of testicle injury! And throughout my trials and tribulations, I've still been rolling the bones and forgetting myself for a few hours a week.

In the game in which I am a player, which I am now calling the New Gods campaign, our characters are becoming (what else?) new gods. In the real world, this is to test a new mechanic of the DM's homebrew system, but it's made interesting by the fact that within the game, our characters belonged to an atheistic society.

In the game I'm running, the players are off on some half-cocked vague adventure. We've had two sessions so far, and for the first one, I was barely awake and not at all prepared.
In the second session, I had actually prepared a small dungeon, and even populated it with new monsters from my own imagination. The dungeon also contained a +2 knife, which in my game world, is an extremely rare and powerful magical item. The kind of knife a king would wear. The party made a more or less bee-line for the intended target of the adventure, and after locating it, buggered off, leaving about 90% of the dungeon unspoiled. What was intended as a three hour dungeon was done with in about fifteen minutes, and I proceeded to wing it.
Winging it is a time honored tradition among DM's, and in my experience, can sometimes lead to the best adventures. Certainly some of my proudest moments have come from running games off the top of my head.
Unfortunately, in the current campaign, I had yet to "take off the training wheels".
When I run a game, for the first couple of levels, I like to give the party a pretty firm hand. I overtly and obviously hand them the first adventure to help introduce them to the setting and allow them to introduce their players to me. By the end of it, everyone should have a pretty firm grasp of the flavor of the adventure and their companions. After that introductory bit, I tend to let the character decide where they want to go from there.
The big problem of this approach is when the characters do something that takes the story off the rails early and you're forced to deal with things you aren't even vaguely prepared for.

My PC's escaped the sewer dungeon, plowed through a mountain of my bullshit, and are now on their way to something more interesting, that may or may not have a bearing on the fate of the world. As per usual.

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